Taliban deputy leader Mehsud killed in U.S. drone strike

The death of Pakistani Taliban deputy leader Khalid Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike last week was confirmed Monday by a Taliban spokesman.

Pakistani Taliban leader Khalid Mehsud was killed on February 8 in a U.S. drone strike, officials said Monday. Photo courtesy Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Pakistani Taliban leader Khalid Mehsud was killed on February 8 in a U.S. drone strike, officials said Monday. Photo courtesy Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Pakistani security officials announced the death of Mehsud, also known as Sajna, soon after the Feb. 8 airstrike in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province, on its border with Pakistan.
Mehsud was a commander in the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, the Taliban’s main faction. He is believed to be the mastermind of a 2011 attack on a naval base in Karaxhi, as well as a 2012 jailbreak in Bannu.

The spokesman said Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah immediately replaced Mehsud with another commander, Mufti Noor Wali.

The TTP has recently curtailed activities because of a successful Pakistani military offensive, and Mehsud’s death is expected to further weaken the Islamist group.

Many TTP militants have sought refuge in Afghanistan.

Mehsud is the most influential TTP leader killed since 2016, when Afghan and Pakistani Islamic State leader Hafiz Saeed Khan was killed.

By Ed Adamczyk